Breastfeeding…Behind Closed Doors
By J.T. Grazie, Author, PCD
I was seven years of age, yet the memory is vivid; the burning sun shining through the white, lace curtains, the rear facing, maple rocking chair and the crack in the doorway. A world of questions would lie in waiting, on the second floor. I was a young girl, visiting with family, curious. A whispered command was lurking in the distance, creeping up from behind. “Shh, she is nursing her baby. Let’s give her some privacy and join everyone downstairs.” I felt shunned. I had never witnessed the wonderment of a baby breastfeeding before. I wanted to learn more.
Being Italian, I was used to hearing grown-ups whisper, but only if someone had fallen ill. I just couldn’t understand why the same whispered tone was being used to speak of the art of breastfeeding? I had so many questions. Why was the baby covered up? Why was the rocking chair, strategically faced away from the door? Why was the mama secluded and sent to nurse upstairs? I was so confused.
Fast forward twenty eight years. A new mom at the age of thirty five, my husband and I were invited to a gathering at a nearby friend’s home. We were greeted with open arms…and a whispered command, much like the one heard years before. “We have set up a room for you, that way you can nurse your baby in private.” My baby and I were quite the breastfeeding duo! At this point, we were a proud pair and didn’t want to be whisked away! I felt pressured. Did I agree to feed in seclusion to make our friends feel more comfortable? I lovingly refused to feed my little one behind closed doors and chose to breastfeed in public! This was the first successful step with many to follow.
Those first days of breastfeeding were challenging; learning how to nurse with confidence in public, with so much added pressure to cover up. Breastfeeding my sweet pea under a cover-up had always caused me a great deal of stress. I would anxiously ask myself a myriad of questions, while nursing. Would my baby be able to breathe? Would my baby be able to latch on properly? Such racing thoughts sadly triumphed, while trying to appease the majority. I believed then, and still do, that breastfeeding in public, as well as “covering up,” should be a personal choice, not a decision dictated by others.
The journey from childhood to motherhood, relating to breastfeeding, has currently led me away from a place of appeasement, to a place of joyful empowerment! As the author of, “Mama’s Cover Up,” my mission is to help foster breastfeeding acceptance. Each page of this powerful children’s book is hand crafted in felt, depicting mama mammals, breastfeeding their babies. Each mammal is wearing a crocheted cover up…a silly cultural depiction. Would mama mammals in nature ordinarily wear a cover up while offering their breast to provide nourishment and nurturance? Would mama mammals be asked to excuse themselves, to nurse in private? I think not.
As an open minded, passionate, breastfeeding mother, doula and author, I believe in the power of discussion. I believe in the beauty of breastfeeding. My wish is to have others believe in its beauty, as well, but not from behind a crack in the doorway.
J.T. Grazie has been called the Baby Whisperer by many. “Mama’s Cover Up,” is her first offering in the Mama Grazie Book Series and has received high accolades, from those in the breastfeeding community and families everywhere! Created by hand and authored by J.T. Grazie, its intent is to inspire and empower women. A second tale is in the works, for this children’s author, illustrator, postpartum doula and passionate, breastfeeding mom!